I’m a fairly outspoken person about the unfair and illegal practices of unpaid internships. As I have stated in my previous post, How to Take Advantage of Unpaid Internships Before They Take Advantage of You, there are very specific guidelines for how internships are supposed to work in the eyes of the law. It occurred to me that if an internship did not pay or offer any sort of college credit (which is also a joke, in my opinion), then there’s really no incentive for a company to offer any sort of documentation that proves you worked there at all. Recently HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes rectified its past mistake of having unpaid interns oversee their social media efforts by giving them all back pay. Kudos, Hootsuite! You’re the definition of “doing it right”! Unfortunately for us Americans this took place in Canada, and their laws have no effect on ours. However, if interns and future interns in our country understood their rights, they would be better equipped to weed out internships that take advantage of them rather than help them develop necessary skills to land a decent job.
If unpaid internships come with proper documentation detailing who they work for and for how long, the number of hours they dedicated to it, and the kind of work and supervision they’re provided, it would make it easier for them to take legal action if the situation called for it. It’s not a difficult idea. It forces companies to adhere to the rules and regulations already in place to protect new graduates and interns.